Do you remember how it felt when you decided to become a CPA? The promise of those three magic letters can be very exciting, but first, comes with the start of a big life-journey. A journey that entails the preparation for the CPA Exam and the dedication and time commitment necessary to see it through. What’s the best way to study? Is the CPA even right for me? How do I find time to study? Those are just some of the questions that may have crossed your mind back then, and continue to come up with today’s future CPAs.
The AICPA recently launched a new podcast series, Next Stop: CPA, which takes a more informal, conversational, and at times, humorous approach to covering the wide range of topics that are most relevant and important to your Exam candidates. Hosted by AICPA’s Mike Horan and me, Next Stop: CPA releases 1-2 episodes each month that are designed to share valuable insights about the Exam, the profession and related topics.
Listeners can expect to learn more about what the CPA Exam Blueprints are and how to tackle them, Exam administration through interviews with National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), test-day prep tips, professors’ insights on how colleges are preparing future Exam candidates, why a CPA-positive firm culture is so important and more.
In our first episode, “What’s your Exam strategy?” I spoke with CPAs Dr. Sean Stein Smith, a professor of accounting at Leman College in New York, and Angela Ho, Chief Accounting Officer with OceanFirst Bank in Red Bank, New Jersey, who shared the strategies they followed while pursuing the CPA. These included the obvious “manage your time well,” “rely on your support network,” to the less obvious “get noise canceling headphones” if you’re studying in a place prone to distraction (i.e., around young children or your talkative parents). Along with sharing their personal tips and tricks for preparing for the Exam, they had some inspirational words for listeners who may be struggling or questioning their decision to stick with it. Dr. Smith mentioned “It was really tough to keep going sometimes, especially after I failed a section. I had never failed a test in my life, so it really took some personal grit to harness that internal willpower and motivation and push through and do it. But if you’re in it or considering it, do it, the Exam is 100% worth it and will pay off now and well into the future.”
While some episodes are more motivational and share perspectives from those who’ve been in the shoes of the listener, others are information-driven, like the Exam section-specific episodes that include interviews with the AICPA’s CPAs who oversee the development of each section. In these episodes we get to know the section leaders a little better, what their experience was like when they took the Exam, and the latest information about their specific section and how best to approach it. We also gain some valuable insights. For example, in the AUD-focused episode “You AUD to know,” guest Kevin Gouldey, Manager of Exam Content, notes “I’m always a little surprised at the lack of understanding some people have around audit assertions. They’re basic building blocks for an audit, and it’s an understanding that people get with time once they’re in the profession. So, I think when people are taking the Exam right out of school, that’s probably something they’re less comfortable with than someone who does have 1-2 years of experience.” Kevin also noted after the episode that this is something most accounting majors learn in school, but experiencing their application in a real-world audit tends to solidify their understanding more than being taught them in a classroom.
Want to share this great resource with someone you know who’s thinking about or currently pursuing the CPA? Next Stop: CPA can be found almost everywhere that podcasts are available. This includes iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Podomatic, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker and other podcast outlets. Be sure to subscribe and find out updates when new episodes become available. For the latest Exam information and resources, including the Exam Blueprints, sample tests, scoring information and more, visit aicpa.org/cpaexam.